Extra security now in place at Wellingborough Prison after Travellers' eviction
Concrete barriers have been installed at a former prison to stop any illegal encampments on the site.
The security measures have been put in place after Travellers recently set up camp in the grounds of HMP Wellingborough for several weeks.
The Travellers were finally evicted on October 3, but it led to the MP for Wellingborough and Rushden Peter Bone raising the question about whether any action is being taken to stop it happening again.
In a written question to the Secretary of State for Justice, Mr Bone said: “What plans are in place to improve security at Wellingborough Prison to prevent Travellers encroaching on the site.”
The response from Sam Gyimah, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, said: “Following the Travellers’ occupation of the main car park at the former HMP Wellingborough, we took immediate action to seek their removal including pursuing the matter through the courts.
“The travellers were evicted on 3 October and we put security guards in place until a permanent solution could be installed.
“On 13 October we installed concrete barriers to prevent future encroachment at the site.”
Wellingborough Prison closed in December 2012 and resulted in the loss of almost 600 prison places.
Former justice secretary Ken Clarke said closing the category C prison in Northamptonshire would save £10 million per year.
When it formally closed on December 21, 2012, prisons minister at the time Jeremy Wright indicated that the site could be used as a prison again in the future.
In June 2014, Mr Wright stated in a parliamentary written answer to Mr Bone that Wellingborough Prison would be retained in a mothballed state for reserve capacity.
Mr Bone has been campaigning for the prison to be re-opened since its closure and he regularly raises the issue in Parliament.
He raised it in the House of Commons yesterday (Wednesday) when he asked the Prime Minister if she would support the re-opening of Wellingborough Prison during an exchange about his 64th birthday.
After Theresa May wished him a happy birthday and hoped that Mrs Bone would ‘treat the occasion in the appropriate manner,’ the PM said she welcomed Mr Bone’s lobbying to re-open the prison and assured him that Wellingborough is one of the sites being considered as part of the policy to close Victorian prisons and open modern ones.